kyrie irving ben simmons
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Despite any opinions disguised as reports from talking heads, don’t even think about the Nets trading Kyrie Irving for Ben Simmons.

Danny Small

Let’s just nip this Kyrie Irving nonsense in the bud before it even starts. This is the quiet part of the offseason where people are throwing slop against the wall in hopes that it sticks. At least, that’s what it looks like this wannabe Skip Bayless was trying to do on Wednesday when he dropped some “news” on the Brooklyn Nets.

The roundabout way Nick Wright explains this “NBA news” is laughable. It looks like the “news” that he’s reporting is that Irving will retire if he’s traded by the Nets. But he prefaces that by saying “there are a handful of Kyrie trades that potentially made sense for the Nets.”

This is an opinion disguised as a report because Wright is a television talk show host who needs to drum up headlines. A blockbuster swap of Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons would certainly qualify as a major headline. Maybe Wright is pushing this on his show right now, but honestly, I’ve never even thought about turning it on.

The problem with this reporting is that the Nets have given absolutely no indication that they are trying to trade Irving. In fact, the most recent thing we have heard from the front office in regards to Kyrie is that they hope to sign him to an extension by training camp.

General manager Sean Marks said this about extending Irving and James Harden in August:

“As it pertains to [Irving] and [Harden], we’re having those conversations with them now and I think there is no immediate hurry to get any of these guys done in terms of the first day of free agency.”

“These are opportunities for us to sit down, break bread together, meet with Joe Tsai, and really all get on the same page. I feel very confident that first day of training camp we’ll be looking at those three, in particular, being signed, sealed, and delivered, and be a part of the Brooklyn Nets for a long time to come.”

Why This Trade Idea is Really Stupid

Although this trade is never going to happen, let’s break down why it doesn’t make sense from an on-court perspective either. On its face, it’s a good deal for both sides.

The Sixers get one of the best point guards in the league and someone who can play off of Joel Embiid. For the Nets, they ditch a great scorer for a dominant defender who can handle the ball or play the five.

With Harden and Kevin Durant in the fold, the Nets shouldn’t worry about losing Irving’s scoring, right? Wrong.

It’s very clear that the Nets are building a team that will coast in the regular season and turn it on in the playoffs. Injuries mucked up those plans last year, but don’t expect them to change that much.

The primary goal is still building a team that can dominate in the playoffs. Why would they trade Irving for Simmons?

Kyrie is one of the all-time great playoff performers who happened to hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history (see NBA Finals Game 7 in 2016). Simmons, on the other hand, is famous for shrinking in nearly every big moment in Philly.

And this isn’t meant to be a teardown of Simmons. In an alternate universe where this trade happens, the Nets would still be a championship contender. He’s a great player who can become a superstar in the right situation.

Who is to say the Sixers would make this deal, either? On paper, it’s a much better fit for Philly but would GM Daryl Morey want to trade one problem star for potentially another?

If the Nets are looking to improve their regular-season defensive efficiency over all else, sure, trade Irving for Simmons. But the Nets are trying to win championships.

Oh, and Kyrie tweeted about taking off his mask and it sparked debate about whether or not he is anti-mask in regards to COVID-19. It’s much more likely that this tweet was just a metaphor. The simplest explanation is often correct.